Rudder For Kayaks: And How To Install Them

rudder-for-kayak

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 9/29/2022

A rudder is an item that may be pretty beneficial to have on a kayak. However, as you are aware, not all kayaks come with a pre-installed rudder. However, this does not preclude you from installing your system at all.

We have compiled some information on how to choose a kayak rudder and some tips for using it. You can find this information below. To provide a clearer picture of the available options, we have also included our assessment of a few suggested sets that could be useful to you in the endeavor above.

Kayak Rudders At A Glance

(If you click on the links below, you will be sent to Amazon.)

8 Best Rudders (And Systems) For Kayaks

1: Bullnose Clamp On Rudder (best generic trolling motor rudder)

  • Eleven inches is the total length.
  • The width is five inches.
Bullnose Rudder clamp


This Bullnose Clamp On Rudder may easily be attached to trolling motors thanks to its clamp-on design. It comes with a clamp that can connect to any trolling engine with a shaft measuring 1 1/8 inches in diameter.

It comes with screws that allow you to fasten the clamps around the shaft and attaches to the post just above the propeller. The attachment point is right above the propeller. The rudder doesn't need to be connected directly to the kayak, canoe, or other small watercraft for you to be able to steer and control it with this method.

Because the rudder is connected to the shaft of the trolling motor, it interacts with the directional controls of the engine and does not require separate control to function correctly. Because there are no cables or lines attached, installing this rudder might be more straightforward due to this feature.

Features

  • Designed to be fastened to trolling motors
  • No drilling into your kayak
  • No separate controls

 2: Walmeck Kayak Rudder Kit 

  • Length: 20 inches.
  • The width is three inches.
Walmeck Kayak Rudder Kit

Because it does not come with its mounting hardware, the Walmeck Kayak Rudder Kit is intended to be used on kayaks with mounting points for rudder systems. You can find These mounting points on kayaks manufactured by Walmeck.

It includes a 20-inch rudder and the cables that allow you to operate the rudder, allowing for improved steering and overall boat control.

It is possible that it is essential to point out that some of the rudders appear to have been manufactured with the spring-loaded in the opposite direction, which results in the rudder being in the stowed position.

However, the spring can be removed and rotated so that it is facing the correct direction before it is reassembled by first removing the side plate from the rudder, then removing the pin, and finally removing the spring to spin it around before reassembling it.

Features

  • Compatible with a variety of kayaks
  • Could call for the purchase of extra parts
  • Affordable

3: Borogo Kayak Rudder Kit

  • 17.7 inches is the length.
  • The width measures 5.6 inches.
Borogo Kayak Rudder

Since the Borogo Kayak Rudder Kit is intended to be placed on various kayaks and recreational boats, it may be a suitable alternative for more mature ships or yaks that were not manufactured by one of the more well-known manufacturers.

You may find that you need to have a specialized mounting point on the back of your watercraft; nevertheless, it comes with a stainless steel rudder mount that will make installing it on your kayak a little bit simpler.

This versatile piece of gear can serve both as a skeg and a cheap nylon rudder. Because the ropes necessary for steering are not included in the package, you will need to purchase them separately.

Features

  • Construction using nylon
  • Included is a mount for the kayak's rudder.
  • No steering system

4: Jili Online 1Pc Adjustable Kayak Rudder (Best Overall Generic Rudder)

  • Length is a total of 16.7 inches
  • Width: 3.3 inches
Adjustable Kayak Rudder

This Jili Online Adjustable Kayak Rudder is a one-piece rudder kit with a steering mechanism that allows you to operate the rudder using the foot pedals on your kayak. This rudder kit is available for purchase on the Jili Online website. However, there are no foot pedals included with this rudder purchase.

This rudder system can assist you in changing direction or keep you going in a straight line when coupled to rotational foot pedals. It is helpful in situations where there is a strong current or wind. Because of its long-lasting nature, the rudder blade is constructed out of tough nylon.

This rudder kit is an alternative worth considering for a variety of kayaks, in addition to canoes and other small boats. However, if your ship does not yet have a rudder installed, you might find that you need additional parts.

Features

  • Able to function on a wide variety of kayaks
  • Affordable
  • Durable

5: Ocean Kayak Rudder Kit (For Ocean Kayak Boats)

  • Twenty-three inches is the length.
  • Seven inches across the width.
Ocean Kayak Rudder

The Ocean Kayak Rudder Kit is a comprehensive accessory package that is made to fit a variety of newer types of boats manufactured by Ocean Kayak (from 2013 onwards). Because of this,  possible that it will not fit older models, and it is also possible that it will not be suitable for other brands of kayaks.

In terms of the hardware, the kit provides you with everything you require to install the rudder on your kayak successfully. However, to put it on your boat, you will need a few other instruments, such as a drill.

The kit comes with foot pedals that may use to control the rudder's steering system, and those pedals are also included with the kit. When it is not necessary to use the rudder, it can also be raised up and out of the way.

Features

  • Complete rudder kit
  • Steering system
  • Made for Ocean Kayak vessels
  • Expensive

6: Wilderness Systems Rudder Kit (For Wilderness Systems kayaks)

  • 15.8 inches is the length.
  • The width is two inches.
Wilderness Systems Rudder Kit

This Wilderness Systems Rudder Kit is a complete rudder system designed to fit all current versions of Wilderness Systems kayaks, including sit-inside and sit-on-top vessels, as well as specific older variants. The kit is also compatible with some older models.

It comes with all of the necessary wires and foot pedals, as well as any other hardware you would need to install on your boat. Additionally, it comes with comprehensive instructions that will walk you through installing it.

After installation, this rudder kit will enable you to steer your kayak using the foot pedals, even when there is a strong current or much wind.

Features

  • Included in this package is all of the required hardware.
  • Made for Wilderness Systems kayaks
  • Detailed instructions are included.
  • Expensive

7: Perception Kayaks Rudder Kit (For Perception Kayaks)

  • The length is precisely 21 inches.
  • Width: 3 14 inches (inches)
Perception Kayaks Rudder

The Rudder Kit from Perception Kayaks is designed to be used with rudder-ready Perception kayaks, which have a pre-molded hole for the rudder post in the kayak's stern.

It is a complete rudder kit that includes all the mounting hardware you should require to install it on your boat correctly. If you are interested in purchasing this product, click here. It comes with the rudder blade and the cables connecting it to the cockpit so that you can use the foot pedals available for purchase to steer. The foot pedals are included in the package as well.

This kit also includes extensive instructions that will assist you in correctly mounting the rudder on your boat.

Detailed instructions are included in this package.

Comes with all the necessary components for a fully functional rudder system.

Made for rudder-ready Perception kayaks

8: Feel Free Beaver Tail Kayak Rudder (For Some Feel Free kayaks)

  • Fifteen inches is the whole length.
free beaver tail kayak

Feel Free Beaver Tail Kayak Rudder is a complete kit explicitly developed for the Moken and Lure lines of kayaks sold by Feel Free. Because of this, it is possible that it will not function with other models of Feel Free yaks or yaks manufactured by other brands. In addition, it is ineffective with the 10-foot Lure or the Moken (or the 2020 Moken).

Foot pegs for toe control, cables, and the rudder are all included in the package, like any other hardware that may require for the installation.

Because the cable allows the rudder to be lifted and lowered, it is simple to stow away even if the water is very shallow or there are rocks in the way.

Features

  • Made for Feel Free Lure and Moken kayaks
  • Integrated with foot pegs
  • Steering system

Kayak Rudder Buying Guide

What Exactly Is The Rudder? How Do They Workes Each One Operate?

A rudder is often a blade located on the stern of a boat and can be deployed to assist in controlling the vessel's heading. Some kayaks are already attached with a rudder installed, while others are sold rudder-ready eaning that can easily attach a to the kayak if you decide to do so.

In most cases, the rudders are managed from the cockpit by using either the handles or the pedals. This might give you greater control over your boat and assist you in steering it in the desired direction.

Kayaking on open water, where there is a greater chance of encountering windier conditions, or on rivers, where there is a stronger current, are both environments in which these can be effective. You can keep on course with the Rudder's assistance, allowing you to turn to counteract the effects of the wind or the river.

If you've ever gone kayaking while there was a strong wind blowing, you've probably observed that your boat will try to turn so that it's facing in the same direction as the wind. This practice is sometimes referred to as weather-cocking, which is analogous to how a weathervane turns its face into the wind.

Using a rudder can assist in preventing this from occurring, providing you with increased command over the yak and assisting you in proceeding in the desired direction of travel. This indicates that the Rudder is not, strictly speaking, directing your kayak; instead, it is assisting you in running your kayak and making it easier for you to paddle.

Are Rudders Different From Skegs?

rudder vs skeg

Yes, rudders and skegs are different. Compared to a rudder, a skeg is often much shorter and has only two possible positions: extended or retracted. In addition, likely, some skegs won't be able to move at all.

On the other hand, a rudder can be shifted from side to side and retracted when it is not used.

Because it allows the stern of your vessel to make more contact with the water, a skeg is typically installed to assist in maintaining a straight course for your boat. You may correct for winds or currents blowing in the opposite direction by swiveling your Rudder, allowing you to head in the direction you had intended to go.

When paddling into wind or stream, a skeg can also be helpful, but because it can only be raised and lowered, it may not have as much of an effect as a rudder in the same circumstances.

Is Anything That Could Be Considered A Drawback To Using A Rudder On A Kayak?

Using a rudder on a kayak comes with several potential drawbacks, one of the most significant of which is the possibility that the Rudder will become damaged. This is especially true if you cannot retract the Rudder in time to avoid hitting any rocks or very shallow water in which it might come into contact with the ground.

Sand or salt may, for instance, get trapped inside the mechanics of a rudder and cause it to get clogged and inoperable, which would cause the moving parts of the Rudder to become destroyed.

While rudders are not often intended to control the direction in which a vessel travels, they can be helpful in this regard. However, this can have a detrimental effect on some less experienced paddlers, as they may rely too heavily on the Rudder when they might be using paddling tactics instead. This can cause the boat to move in the wrong direction.

The Role Of The Rudder In Kayaking

Utilize the foot pedals or the hand controls located in the cockpit to deploy the Rudder. After that, you can guide your kayak in whichever direction you choose by using the mechanism that controls the steering.

Kayak instruction: the proper way to use the Rudder (depicted in the video)

Kayak Technique - The RIGHT Way to Use a Rudder

You should turn the Rudder to the opposite side if you are paddling in an area where a strong stream or wind is coming from the side. If the wind is blowing from the left side of the boat, for instance, deploying the Rudder on the right side should make it easier for you to paddle in a straight line.

When the Rudder is used, the kayak will begin to turn in the opposite direction from the one in which it was deployed. Therefore, if the wind is blowing from the left path, going to the right will aid your bow turn to the right.

However, if there is a strong wind, this will probably only cancel out the effect of the wind, causing it to continue in the same direction rather than veering to the left into the wind.

Can All Kayaks Support A Rudder System?

Some kayaks are constructed with rudder-ready sterns, which indicates that they have been designed with the installation of rudders in mind. These kayaks typically come equipped with mounting points and holes to make installing a rudder much simpler.

If you wish to use particular rudder kits that might require additional parts, this might be helpful. You may, however, be able to purchase the other pieces separately so that you can install them on kayaks that do not already have rudders installed.

You might be able to install a rudder on other kayaks that don't have a rudder-ready stern, but doing so will most likely need you to drill holes and set up a mounting point beforehand. This option is up for debate, and you might even exercise your ingenuity and construct your mount from scratch.

Instructions On How To Attach A Rudder To A Kayak

Step 1: Put the mounting bracket in place.

Mount the rudder mounting bracket to the stern of your kayak using the appropriate hardware. If your kayak is prepared for a rudder, you will most likely find holes that have already been drilled for this purpose. If this is not the case, you will most likely be required to drill the holes on your own.

Once the bracket is in position, check to see that the screws are securely fastened.

Installing the Rudder is The Second step.

Put the Rudder in place by attaching it to the mounting bracket. It should be able to slip into the stand, after which you may lock it in place using the lock ring underneath. While it is still attached to the frame, the Rudder must be able to rotate freely in all directions.

Installing the Lift Lines Is The Third Step.

If your kayak is prepared for a rudder, you should already drill the holes in the vessel's side to accommodate the Rudder. You are using the hardware that will still allow the ropes to move freely and secure the lines in the holes that were boring for them. This is necessary for you to raise and then deploy the rudder blade.

How To Install A Rudder On An ATAK 120, An Explanatory Video

Wilderness Systems | How to Install a Rudder on the ATAK 120

After the ropes have been placed and attached to the Rudder, check to see if you can deploy the blade by pulling on one end of the rope while lifting it with the other. The strings should, in essence, make a long loop that extends from the Rudder to the cockpit and back again.

When the Rudder is in the stowed position, you should pull the lifting line in as tightly as possible; after that, you can secure it and cut off any surplus. If you want to prevent the ends from fraying after being cut, you may try burning them.

Installing Your Pedals Is The Fourth Step.

If your kayak currently has foot braces attached to it, you may need to remove them before you can use the provided hardware. This is done so that you can use the foot pedals to control the ship's Rudder.

Step 5: Attach Your Steering Lines

Before you attach these lines, you might find it more convenient to measure the distance between your Rudder and your foot braces first so that you know how much material you'll want.

You will need to fasten the cable to the appropriate component of the Rudder, then thread it through the proper openings on the rear of your kayak so that it emerges in the cockpit. After that, you can fasten this line to the pedal of your foot brace.

Repeat the steps to complete the operation on the opposite side of your kayak.

Step 6: Fasten The Lines To The Rudder.

Now that your lines are in position and attached to your foot pedals, you can use the screws on the Rudder to tighten them up, fasten them, and cut off any excess line hanging from them.

You need to double-check that all of your controls are operational, and then you should be set to go.

Connecting To The Motor Of A Trolling Boat

Wrapping the clamps around the trolling motor shaft is the first step in attaching a rudder to a trolling motor. If you do not want the performance of your engine to be negatively impacted, you will need to move the Rudder so that it is not in the path of the revolving propeller.

Watch this video to learn more about the "Bullnose Rudder" for your boat's electric trolling motor.

Boat Rudder, "Bullnose Rudder" for electric trolling motors

Coming To A Close

A rudder can be a beneficial instrument for steering and handling a kayak in challenging conditions, such as strong winds and currents. This can be a convenient tool to have in the open sea, where you may need assistance keeping your boat headed in a straight line.

Remember that a rudder is not required in every circumstance and that not all kayaks require one either. This is especially true if you paddle in shallow, rocky waters or whitewater.

What are your thoughts on the rudders that go on kayaks? Do you think you could survive without yours? Please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. Also, feel free to spread this around to get the opinions of your other paddlers on kayak rudders.

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